Milford Knights win Rome hoop title

The Milford Knights Blue 5th grade boys basketball travel team were at it again Saturday morning in East Haven when the Knights toppled Bristol Blue 45-25 in the finals of the 26th annual Charlie Rome Basketball Tournament to capture their third championship in their inaugural season.

The Knights stifling zone defense and long-range shooting were the keys to an explosive first quarter. Ethan Long buried two deep 3-pointers to set the tempo and Brendan Buchner added one of his own and got the Knights off to a quick 13-0 lead.

John Neider scored two if his game-high 14 points and Riley Jordan added four in the quarter to give the Knights a 17-2 lead after one.

The Knights would extend the lead to 20-5 on free throws by Long, Buchner and Jeanero King. Jacob Cupole and Jack Aliberti both turned hustle rebounds into six more Neider points and Zach Worzel hit a baseline jumper to make it 28-10 at the half.

The Knights put the game out of reach in the third quarter, led by Cole Pleiman’s opportunistic defensive play turning Bristol turnovers into baskets by Neider and Buchner.

Nolan McKenna-Hansen controlled the paint with two offensive put backs and the Knights extended the lead to 42-17 after three.

The Knights capped off their scoring with another Long three and held on to defeat Bristol Blue for the third time this season.

Earlier this year, the Knights captured the Milford Knights Travel League regular season and tournament championships, as well as the Fairfield County Basketball League Championship.

The 43-7 Knights look to keep their season alive in the semifinals of the Milford Knights Hoopfest Tournament. Playing in their third game of the day yesterday, the Knights rallied from a 19-point third quarter deficit to knock off Newington, 47-44 in overtime.

The exciting, improbable comeback was capped off by a game-tying three-point buzzer beater by Neider to send the game into overtime. Neider would then tack on three more Knights points to give them the quarterfinal victory.

The Knights will look to avenge one of their losses earlier in the year when they face the Fairfield Knicks in the semifinals.